Archive for November, 2010
Divorce has many effects on children. No two children will react in exactly the same way. That’s why parents need to be diligent about watching for signs and indications that your child may be having problems coping with their new reality.
Depression is one of the more common reactions we see in children of divorce. Unfortunately, many parents entirely miss or misinterpret the signs of depression. It can take many forms including behavior that is distancing, lethargic and withdrawn. This is often accompanied by a drop in school grades. But depression can also show in other ways, such as agitation, frustration and aggression.
When depression takes that form, parents are likely to think of it in terms of discipline problems and respond with punishment. It takes maturity and a broader perspective to stand back and realize that your child’s misbehavior may actually be a way of communicating how they are feeling. Their confusion, anger, resentment and powerlessness to control their life circumstances get expressed physically because they don’t know how to verbalize those complex emotions.
Understanding and compassion goes a long way toward opening that door to communication. Instead of punishment, try talking about your new family situation and acknowledging areas that can be improved. Ask for suggestions. Try to get feedback, to create a dialogue rather than lecturing.
The key for parents is in finding more time for emotional support and reassurance to help your child feel less alone or isolated – especially by the new circumstances in his or her life. If extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are not close by, this becomes even more essential.
Children need the support of emotional anchors – close family and friends – and the consequences of divorce too often isolates them from the very people who can best help them through the transition. For this reason you as a parent must continuously keep your eyes open for signs of emotional distress – and then quickly respond with love, attention, compassion and both physical and emotional support.
Studies show that the rate of serious depression is increasing in children – up from 2% a generation ago to 23% for children up to age 20. Not all of it is divorce related, of course, but it still should be a wake-up call to parents. Don’t beat yourself up with guilt. That doesn’t serve any one in the family. But do be alert so you can address issues that come up early on, before they lead to far greater problems.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator and author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love!. For free articles, her blog, valuable resources on child-centered divorce or to subscribe to her free ezine, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com
© 2010 All Rights Reserved
By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Divorce need not wound and scar your children if you put their emotional and psychological needs first when making crucial decisions. Some parents don’t understand that every decision they make regarding their divorce will affect the well-being of their children in countless ways. The emotional scars are not only harder to see, they’re also much harder to erase.
Here are five keys to helping your children move through and thrive after divorce.
1) Remind them this is not their fault.
Children tend to blame themselves for divorce, no matter how bad Mom and Dad’s relationship has been. The younger the child, the more likely this is so. Sit down together and talk to your children, emphasizing that they are in no way at fault. You can say something like: “Mom and Dad don’t agree about certain key issues and that has created conflict. Even when some of the issues are about you, it does not mean you are to blame. You are an innocent child who we both love. Sadly, Mom and Dad disagree about certain important issues — but not about our love for you. You are not in any way at fault.”
2) Focus on change — not on blame.
Divorce is all about change within the family structure. Often those changes can be beneficial and create a more peaceful environment for your children. Never burden them with adult information and judgments. Focus instead on the fact that change is an inevitable part of life and not necessarily bad. Let your children see that everything in life keeps changing. “You grow bigger every year. Seasons change, clothing styles change, your school classes change. Sometimes it takes a while to get used to changes, like when you get a new teacher or try a new sport. In time you may come to like these new changes. Let’s give it a try.”
3) Respect your child’s other parent.
When you belittle, put down or in any way disrespect your ex – regardless how justified it may feel – it hurts your children in deep and long-lasting ways. Children innately love both their parents and feel a connection to them. When you insult their other parent it creates confusion, guilt, sadness, insecurity and low self-esteem in your children. Instead, remind them that Mom and Dad will always be their parents and will always love them. No one will replace Mom or Dad either. “We will both always love you and be there for you, no matter where we live or how things should change.” Then strive to do the right thing on their behalf.
4) Let your children continue to be children.
While it may sometimes be tempting, never confide adult content to your children. They are not psychologically prepared to handle the emotional complexity. Save venting for trusted friends, a divorce counselor or support group. Also never ask your children to spy, act as messengers between both parents or provide inappropriate details about the other parent’s home life. Again, this pressure’s them in many ways – none of which are positive. It is not their place to assume adult responsibilities or help you to find evidence against your ex.
5) Make decisions through the eyes of your child.
Before making any decisions regarding divorce issues, think about the consequences for your children. Ask yourself, what will they say to me about this when they are grown adults? Will they thank me for the way I handled the divorce – or be angry and resentful about my attitude and behavior? The choices you make will affect your children for years and decades to come. For their sake, take the high road and be a role model they will want to emulate.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! Her innovative approach guides parents in creating a personal family storybook, using fill-in-the-blank templates, family history and photos, as an effective way to break the news with optimum results. For more information, free articles, free ezine and other valuable resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.